Hawaii, although physically as far removed as any state in the nation from the September 11th tragedy, felt the pain, anguish, and loss just as clearly and achingly as anyone else in the nation. In fact, in the initial days that followed many of us felt particularly impotent because we couldn’t even participate in the call for blood donations as the planes weren’t flying and any blood given would just stay here in Hawaii.
Living on islands, the grounding of all plane traffic also meant we were pretty isolated and stuck. People vacationing here when it happened couldn’t fly home no matter if they were from New York or not – and believe me, after September 11th, the only place most of these vacationers wanted to be was home. Beaches and hotels were empty for months, while airport security was ratcheted up and we wondered if tourism, our major industry, was over.
We in Hawaii stayed up for days and watched CNN around the clock with the rest of you. We put American flags on our houses and cars and lapels. We mourned and we cried and we thought of Pearl Harbor. I’m still crying. I can remember that poor CNN reporter crying on the streets of New York as people came up to her looking for their lost loved ones. I remember the shots of Americans running in terror while massive dust clouds overtook them. I can’t look at these images today. It’s too painful.